You probably know that strength training is good for you, but guess what? There’s something even more important than simply working on muscle strength (though that is still important!). It’s called Power Training.
Power Training is not complicated. It means the addition of velocity, or speed, to strength exercise.
Recent studies have shown that power training, which increases our ability to react quickly, is more beneficial for older adults than traditional strength training. One study that was presented in the EuroPrevent 2019, a scientific congress of the European Society of Cardiology, concluded that “Our study shows for the first time that people with more muscle power tend to live longer.”
Age-related slowing of reaction times reflects changes in the neuromuscular system. Beginning at about age 60, people encounter a string of structural changes causing a loss of power (ability to generate force quickly) and a loss of functional mobility. Our “fast twitch,” Type II muscles get replaced with slower, Type I muscles if we do not do power training.
Getting up out of a chair depends more on muscle power than muscle strength, yet most traditional exercises focus on muscle strength. Power training is crucial because function happens during quick movements, such as catching yourself when you trip or stumble.
The definition of power is Power = Force times Velocity, so the key to adding power to a workout is to add velocity, or speed – safely! Before adding speed/power to your training, be sure that the movement can be done at a regular tempo with proper technique, and then gradually increase the speed. Start with no additional weights when adding power, to do a little “test drive,” making sure that the body can tolerate the speedier movement. When/if adding weights, the key is to introduce light weights gradually. It’s important to introduce power-training movements sparingly and progress slowly to ensure the nervous system and soft-tissues and tolerate the novel training stimulus. Rest for 20 seconds between each set to sufficiently replenish the energy stores in the muscles before starting the next set.
To learn more about Power Training, I highly recommend that you check out the Functional Aging Institute’s https://functionalaginginstitute.com/ Rapid Movement Training Course, taught by my valued colleague, Paul Holbrook. You’ll learn all about the “why” and “how” of speed training in this excellent course.
Power to YOU!